Digital Future: the New Underclass

Our colleague at BA English at Middlesex Dr Josie Barnard presented a BBC Radio 4 programme on 3rd Sept at 11am. It investigates the deep social divides created by the digital world.

Hear it here.

barnard_josie

Whether booking a flight to go on holiday or ordering a takeaway, digital technology is so embedded in everyday life that it’s easy to assume everyone is on a level playing field. Or that those who aren’t are part of an older generation who didn’t grow up with computers. But that’s a dangerous assumption.

22% of the British population lack the digital skills they need to get by day-to-day. That’s more than one in five people who struggle with signing their child up to school, filling in a tax return, or even using a smartphone to make a call. And as more and more essential services move online, falling behind the pace of change carries severe consequences.

For young people, the risks of being left behind are buried under the assumption that they are digital natives – that they have supposedly grown up with an innate ability to use digital technology. But as the number of smartphone-only households grows, millions of children are in danger of their digital world shrinking around a tiny touchscreen.

Dr Barnard asks if this is simply a question of affordability and motivation, or whether more complicated factors are at play. She speaks to people struggling to find space at public computer banks to complete their Universal Credit forms, and a group who are jumping hurdles to get online because of their severe dyslexia, and gets behind the screens of smartphone-only teenagers to find out how the kind of device and the way we use it can be just as detrimental as not having it at all.

Presenter: Dr Josie Barnard

Producer: Emma Barnaby

Executive Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio

Dr Ksenija Kondali, University of Sarajevo, coming to Middlesex for an Erasmus+ teaching visit to talk about Fictionalizing Transatlantic Slavery

We are delighted to welcome Dr Ksenija Kondali, assistant professor at the University of Sarajevo (Faculty of Philosophy) for an Erasmus+ teaching visit on March 16th, 2018. She will give an interactive seminar on Fictionalizing Transatlantic Slavery: A Comparative Study.

When? Friday March 16th, 15.00 – 17.00

Where? PAG02 (Portacabin)

Building on the theorizations of the Black Atlantic paradigm developed by Paul Gilroy (1993) and its “re-membering” by Lars Eckstein (2006), and other theoretical foundations, this presentation investigates the re-inscription of transatlantic slavery in selected literary texts from a comparative perspective. More specifically, it addresses the recuperation of disregarded voices from the Middle Passage and the transatlantic linkage of black identities. These voices are heard in the novel A Mercy (2008) by the African-American author Toni Morrison, the British-Guyanese author Fred D’Aguiar’s The Longest Memory (1994), and The Book of Negroes (2007) by Lawrence Hill, a Canadian author of US-immigrant parentage. Comparing particular features of “traumatic pasts, literary afterlives” (Erll 2011) and embedded traumatic memories represented in these texts, this talk focuses on the different representations of memory in the novels, set in various historical, geographical and cultural landscapes.

ksenjaKsenija Kondali is an assistant professor and teaches courses on US history, literary theory, British and American literature and culture at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo. She completed her BA and MA at the University of Sarajevo, and defended her doctoral dissertation in English at the University of Zagreb (Croatia). Dr Kondali has presented her papers at over twenty regional and international conferences and published papers about American, British, Irish, and postcolonial authors.

51C9krrhRXL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_

In 2016, she co-edited a volume entitled Critical and Comparative Perspectives on American Studies (published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing), and last year she published her monograph Intersecting Paradigms, about history, memory, and space in contemporary American women’s writing.

 

All welcome – no need to register.

 

For an outline of all Language & Communication events the week commencing March 12th 2018, please click here.

New Partnership with Haringey Unchained

We are absolutely delighted to be the 2017-18 University partner of the Haringey Unchained. Haringey Unchained is a collective of students aiming to showcase the creative talent of Haringey Sixth Form Centre in Tottenham, London.

This collective publishes a volume of creative writing every year. Below is their 2017 collection, in collaboration with the University of Warwick.

har-e1499187201698.jpg

The collection is a great read and was launched on June 22nd, at  the final show of the Haringey Unchained and We Move Creative Arts Festival. Poetry readings were combined with dance performances inspired by the poems in the collection. Industry experts in the audience enjoyed the show as much as we did.

To find more about the work of Haringey Unchained check their website: https://haringeyunchained.wordpress.com/

We are really looking forward to working with students and staff at Haringey Sixth Form College. Our Middlesex students at BA English will work with and mentor Haringey students in editing volume 3 of Haringey Unchained.

All submissions welcome!

Day schedule for Symposium on Close Reading

The full schedule for the day symposium on Close Reading, Codes and Interpretation is now confirmed:

MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY

Room H116 (Hatchcroft building)

13 June 2017

0900 – 0930 Registration

0930 – 1015 PAUL COBLEY (Middlesex University)
‘The magic of codes: semiotics and close reading’
1015-1100 BARBARA BLEIMAN (English and Media Centre)
‘Close reading in Secondary English – practices, problems and solutions’

1100 – 1115 tea/coffee

1115 – 1200 ADRIAN PABLÉ (University of Hong Kong)
‘Interpretation, radical indeterminacy and close reading’
1200 – 1245 STEFAN PETO (Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys)
‘Close reading at the chalk-face: strategies and observations in Key Stage 3’

1245 – 1345 Lunch & Launch of the undergraduate magazine Mesh

1345 – 1430 JON ORMAN (University of Hong Kong)
‘Thick description and/as close reading: some language-philosophical reflections’
1430 – 1515 BILLY CLARK (Middlesex University)
‘Pragmatic inference and reading processes’
1515 – 1600 MARCELLO GIOVANELLI (Aston University) and JESS MASON (Sheffield Hallam University)
‘Whose close reading?: emphasis, attention and cognition in the literature classroom’

1600 -1615 tea/coffee

1615 – 1700 ANDREA MACRAE (Oxford Brookes University)
‘Close reading as process and product’
1700 – 1745 LOUISA ENSTONE (Darrickwood School)
‘Is it time to stop pee-ing? A grassroots study into teaching reading and essay writing at Secondary’
1745 – 1800 JOHAN SIEBERS (Middlesex University)
‘Only the furthest distance would be closeness – semantic anarchism, close reading and academic practice’

1800 – 1900 Book launch: Critical Humanist Perspectives: The Integrational Turn in Philosophy of Language and Communication, edited by Adrian Pablé (Routledge, 2017).

For more information, and to register click here.

‘Close reading, codes and interpretation’ – booking open and line-up confirmed

ooking to our one-day symposium on ‘Close reading, codes and interpretation’, hosted by the Language & Communication is now open.

book message cloud shape Book here.

When? 9 am-7 pm, Tuesday 13th June 2017
Where?
Room H116, Middlesex University, Hendon Campus, London, NW4 4BT

In some reckonings, ‘close reading’ is now around 90 years old, having been inaugurated in I. A. Richards’ Principles of Literary Criticism (1926) and Practical Criticism (1929). The close reading of texts has become arguably the central activity of the humanities and close reading is carried out across different levels of education and through a number of disciplines. As its practitioners recognize, procedures of close reading can become ossified into routine practices of code identification rather than active interpretation.

This day symposium seeks to ask what ‘close reading’ is like now, how it is exercised in education in different contexts and how it might differ from or resemble ‘codes’ of reading. It features papers by teachers in Higher Education, Further Education and Secondary Education, including:

  • BARBARA BLEIMAN (English and Media Centre): ‘Close reading in Secondary English –  practices, problems and solutions’
  • BILLY CLARK (Middlesex University): ‘Pragmatic inference and reading processes’
  • PAUL COBLEY (Middlesex University): ‘The magic of codes: semiotics and close reading’
  • LOUISA ENSTONE (Darrickwood School): ‘Is it time to stop pee-ing? A grassroots study into teaching reading and essay writing at Secondary’
  • MARCELLO GIOVANELLI (Aston University) and JESS MASON (Sheffield Hallam University): ‘Whose close reading?: emphasis, attention and cognition in the literature classroom’
  • ANDREA MACRAE (Oxford Brookes University): ‘Close reading as process and product’
  • JON ORMAN (University of Hong Kong): ‘Thick description and/as close reading: some language-philosophical reflections’
  • ADRIAN PABLÉ (University of Hong Kong): ‘Interpretation, radical indeterminacy and close reading’
  • STEFAN PETO (Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys): ‘Close reading at the chalk-face: strategies and observations in Key Stage 3’
  • JOHAN SIEBERS (Middlesex University): ‘Only the furthest distance would be closeness – semantic anarchism, close reading and academic practice’what-reading

Cost: £10 flat fee (includes lunch and refreshments)

For the full day schedule, click here.

For any questions, please email Billy Clark b.clark@mdx.ac.uk or Paul Cobley p.cobley@mdx.ac.uk

Have you missed any of our Language and Communication Research Seminars?

This year’s hugely successful series of Language and Communication Research Seminars is coming to an end.

We have uploaded some of our seminars on youtube, so that you can catch up on the ones you’ve missed or re-watch your favourite ones!

You can find Dr Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham) full talk on “Wandering Bodies – Ambient Literature and Thinking with Place”.

Check also Dr Federico Farini’s (University of Suffolk) talk about “SHARMED: promoting migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in 3 European countries” given on 9th March 2017.

Finally, you can see the highlights from the “Images of Tradition“, a talk by Professor Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway).

More coming soon at MDX BA English youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9yz85YMykcx5jFHhq313pw

What our first-year think about BA English

The first year ever of BA English is coming to an end and today I’ve asked a handful of our students to write down a sentence or two about their experiences so far.

I was so, so pleased to hear what our students had to say about their first year at uni.

  • “Amazing first year packed with new experiences and exciting seminars! Loved my first year at Middlesex!” 
brit lib 2
Billy explaining the connection between King George and Middlesex University: From our Study Trip to the British Library 13th February 2017
  • “This course has encouraged creativity, sophisticated discussions and tapped into our personal writing ‘voice’ – letting us explore who we are as writers and what we want to say to the world.” 
  • “BA English is a very broad subject and I would recommend it to anyone that is interested in English language. This year we studied English Literature and English Language too. They both interlink really well and made me realise that English is more than just a subject to study but it is also a fascinating part of life.” 
  • “Studying English at Middlesex has given me the opportunity to discuss and explore prevalent themes and ideas within a range of literary and spoken texts.” 
  • “Initially I found the course to be intimidating due to many modules. However, this intimidation was quickly replaced by curiosity and being more open to new information. One of my favourite modules would be ‘Writing and the Contemporary World’ due to teaching me new styles of writing such as ‘free writing’. It also introduced me to writing from various cultures. All four modules made me more comfortable when presenting (which we have done quite often).” 

Happy Easter, everyone!

easter-chick-sitting-on-easter-eggs